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Artificial harmonics on the Guitar

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There are 3 types of artificial harmonics: the simple artificial harmonics, tapped harmonics and pinched harmonics.

Basics required for this lesson : Natural Harmonics on the Guitar,
Practice this lesson : None

The artificial simple harmonic

Marked 'AH' (artificial harmonic) on a tab, they correspond roughly to natural harmonics from which the fundamental is not an open string. The way to play them is similar to the natural harmonics except that the harmonic is at a level which is related on its fundamental.

For instance, if we take the preceding example and that we transform the open string by a F (3rd fret, D string), the octave harmonic is located at the 15th fret (3 +12):


The artificial tapped harmonic

Marked 'TH' (Tapped harmonic) on a tab, they correspond to a simple artificial harmonic except that they are created by typing the fret (a bit like in tapping) with the index of the right hand and not in touching it. Thus they are probably more difficult to achieve.

The sound produced is slightly different.



The artificial pinched harmonics

Without any doubt, they are the hardest to achieve but perhaps the most common. Here, no need to move your right hand to produce the next harmonic up to the neck: All occurs at the 'pick' of the string with the guitar pick. The idea is to pick a string and then immediately stop its vibration (without muffling the sound!) to create the harmonic.

Warning: The realization of a pinched harmonic requires some technical expertise.

Here are the steps to follow in order to achieve a pinched harmonics:

  • The hold of the pick: It is essential, you must hold it firmly (1) very near the tip (2), between the index and the thumb (3). (If any of these points is missing you surely won't succeed)

  • The way of picking: You have to pick down the string with a dry stroke, your thumb (holding the pick) should come immediately hitting the string (that we just vibrate). All occurs at the same movement of the pick, so it's very fast!

Depending on the area where you strum (at the microphone or rosette), the harmonics will be different.


The main cause of failure of a pinched harmonics is a misplacement of the thumb that is holding the pick. So if you muffle the sound completely is that its placement is bad. Check its placement (parallel to the strings and very close to the tip of the pick) and try again.


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